ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday cited instability among neighboring states to urge political parties to form a coalition government quickly, or face the prospect of holding another election.
“Surrounded by a veritable ring of fire, Turkey must be strong to avoid harm and help its brothers, so we must quickly complete the post-election period,” he said.
Turkey hosts nearly 2 million refugees who have fled the war in neighboring Syria. Erdogan has been an outspoken critic of his Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and is also worried about recent gains by Syrian Kurds along the Turkish border.
The AK Party (AKP) that Erdogan founded and led until he became president last year lost its parliamentary majority in a June 7 election, ending more than a decade of single-party rule and curbing his ambitions to create a more powerful presidency.
AKP officials have privately said Erdogan may view a snap election as the best hope for the AKP to win back a majority and help him realize his vision for the presidency.
Lawmakers will be sworn in on Tuesday, after which Erdogan will mandate the Islamist-roooted AKP, parliament’s biggest party, to try to form a coalition government within 45 days.
“It’s possible this process may take until the middle of August. I believe Turkey cannot endure such a loss of time, so I want to see a coalition government formed as soon as possible, the president told a meeting of exporters.
“If politicians are unable to sort this out, then the people are the only recourse to resolve this,” he said, referring to the prospect of a snap election if coalition talks fail.
Erdogan’s critics have accused him of interfering in coalition talks and violating a constitutional requirement to remain neutral, but he insists he is within his mandate.
Separately, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said a coalition with the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the second-biggest party in parliament, was unlikely but signaled one with the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) could be possible.
“If you look at election promises, there are difficulties with the CHP taking a role in the government,” he said in an interview with CNN Turk.
“When you look at the MHP since June 7, you see increasingly positive, realistic statements ... There are difficulties with the MHP, but conveniences as well.”
Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Tom Heneghan